8 MLS records Lionel Messi can break at Inter Miami
Lionel Messi has arrived in MLS having set a ridiculous number of records. He’s pretty much completed football and can sleep soundly knowing that his legacy is secure, no matter how things go at Inter Miami.
But based on the evidence of his early appearances, Messi hasn’t arrived in America for one last paycheque. He’s served us a reminder of his status as one of the best players of all time with some spellbinding moments already.
We’ve taken a closer look at eight records that the Argentinian icon could potentially break whilst at Inter Miami.
Inter Miami’s all-time top goalscorer
Let’s start with an easy one. Given that Inter Miami only became an MLS club in 2020, they don’t have a great deal of history. The club’s current all-time top goalscorer is Messi’s old Argentina team-mate Gonzalo Higuain, with 29 goals in 70 appearances.
Messi has got off to a good start in one day surpassing his compatriot, having scored three goals in just two appearances, averaging a goal every 34 minutes so far.
A joy to watch—unless you're a defender.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 26, 2023
This one’s definitely doable.
Messi’s Inter Miami team-mate Josef Martinez currently holds the record for the most hat-tricks in MLS history with six – all of which were for his former club Atlanta United.
The Venezuelan finds himself ahead of the likes of Bradley Wright-Phillips (five), Robbie Keane (four) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (three) – but given Messi has notched 57 career hat-tricks, it’s not difficult to imagine him scoring more than six for Inter Miami.
Most free-kick goals
Former Italy international Sebastian Giovinco currently holds the record for the most goals scored from free kicks with 13 in total.
Giovinco scored 13 free kick goals during his four-year stint with Toronto FC, putting him ahead of Jeff Larentowicz, Javier Morales and Inter Miami owner David Beckham.
Messi, of course, is already off the mark with an instantly iconic free kick on his MLS debut – an injury-time winner against Cruz Azul. It was the 53rd free-kick goal of his career, so don’t bet against him adding another 13 during his swansong in North America.
LIONEL ANDRÉS MESSI IS NOT HUMAN. pic.twitter.com/2mBDI41mLy
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 22, 2023
Most goals in a season
Messi may be an extra-terrestrial, but breaking the single-season goalscoring record is surely behind him this year after arriving midway through the 2023 campaign.
Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela set a new record back in 2019 after scoring 34 goals for LAFC. The Mexican surpassed the 31 goals scored by Josef Martinez for Atlanta United the season before.
Next year, with a full season it might be more achievable, but it’s a big ask at the age of 36.
Most assists in a season
Breaking the assists record might be a tougher ask than the single-season goalscoring record.
Colombia legend Carlos Valderrama notched a ridiculous 26(!) assists for the now-defunct Tampa Bay Mutiny during the 2000 season. To put that in context, Messi jointly holds the record for most assists in a single season in one of Europe’s top five leagues, with 21 for Barcelona in 2019-20.
Best goalscoring streak
The longest goalscoring streak was set by Josef Martinez back in 2019. He was absolutely on fire at that time, scoring in 15 successive MLS outings.
That streak is better than European records set by the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Jamie Vardy and Robert Lewandowski – but it’s still a long way off the 33 goals Messi once scored in 21 successive La Liga appearances.
It’s over a decade since peak Messi set that ridiculous record, but it’ll be interesting to see whether he can get close to matching those heights in his new environment.
All-time most goals
Now we’re getting seriously fanciful, but never say never if Messi can keep playing into his forties.
The all-time goalscoring record was set by former USMNT stalwart Chris Wondolowski with 171 goals between 2005 and 2021. To break that, Messi would have to average 30 goals a season until 2029 – four years after his current contract expires, by which point he’d be 42.
Joining Major League Soccer’s 100 Club is a more realistic aim, albeit still incredibly difficult. Just 13 players have scored a century of MLS goals.
All-time most assists
USA legend Landon Donovan boasts the all-time assists record with 136, the vast majority of which were for LA Galaxy.
As with the goalscoring record, you imagine Messi has arrived too late in his career to have genuine ambitions of challenging for the top end of the all-time chart.
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